At the beginning of the season, many draft experts claimed that the WHL wasn’t quite the hot bed that last year was. It is tough to follow a year which saw Byram, Dach, Cozens, Krebs and company featured in the top 20 but hold the phone…
Defenseman Braden Schneider and forward Connor Zary have been in most top-45 rankings since the beginning of the year and it looks like Portland Winterhawks forward Seth Jarvis and PA Raider D-man Kaiden Guhle could be making their splash as for-sure first rounders. There are a lot of names into the top-60 who come from the WHL and each of them seem to be creeping higher and higher on lists.
Lets take a look at some of the numbers from the month of January to get a snapshot. At this point in time, teams have made their trades and players really hit strides and separate themselves from the pack.
Seth Jarvis has stepped into Connor Zary territory as far as point production and continues to show dominance on the ice. (more on Jarvis later)
Saskatoon Blades have found production from Tristan Robins and Kyle Crnkovic. They are small and mighty. Neither of them were on any deep rankings you could find during the year but I knew Robins would announce himself sooner or later. He is patient, creative, and incredibly smart. So much to like there.
Wiesblatt, Novak, and Sourdif with a real slow month.
Josh Pillar and Lukas Svejkovsky showing up as guys who do not see top PP minutes but still manage to score them goals. Lots of speed and creativity there.
Guhle really looked like a shutdown-style defender who made questionable outlet passes at times and only thought the game from a physical side of things. But…end of November came around and he began to shift his style of play a little bit. Jumping in more rushes. Sneaking in more on the off-side in the Ozone. He is still improving and there are still question marks as to how high he should go, but after a strong CHL Top prospect game and fairly consistent play over the past two months, you know GMs are gonna be eyeing him up. He will probably be drafted higher than he should, but he’s working on his weaknesses so hey… gotta give it to the kid. Well done.
The WHL do not have a powerhouse of offensive-style defenders like they have in the past, but teams might take a flyer on Cotton (leads the WHL in defensive scoring) or Daniel Baker later in the draft. They are both still unfinished products, but have those offensive instincts.
Adam Beckman currently leads the WHL in scoring and is a consistent, adaptable, smart hockey player. He can punish you at 5on5 or on the PP and the WILD absolutely stole him in the third round. He is on track to be an impact Top-9 forward in a few years.
Krebs and Cozens are who we thought they were.
Brayden Tracey isn’t being utilized in the same way as he was in Moose Jaw. Victoria has chosen to split up some of their offence and the PP doesn’t run through Tracey either. The numbers maybe don’t show it, but Tracey is doing just fine. Don’t panic.
After many Capitols fans declared Protas to be the steal of the draft, he has really quieted down as of late alongside draft eligible Ozzy Wiesblatt. Protas has the body and the release to impact a game, but he does rely heavily on his teammates for chemistry in that production. I’m not surprised that he’s faded a bit. He is still raw and needs to work on skating. Solid prospect though. Lots of work left to do.
Addison and Smith came back with a boom after winning gold with team Canada.
Spokane is really tough to match up with on the backend.
Korczak is such a smart player. He’s shown that he is fully capable of being a two-way contributor and his shot rate is right up there. This is a guy who was mostly a “play it safe” defender last season who you can now see making end-to-end rushes at times.
Jett Woo has stepped up to the plate since teammate Egor Zamula (PHI) has been out of the lineup.
*** one I forgot to include was the wonderful month from NYR second-rounder Matthew Robertson. He grabbed three goals and eight assists in 12 games in January for Edmonton. He also had an impressive shot per game rate of 3.92.
Ok. That was long. But… I wanted to be intense, ya know? I wanted to give you the good stuff. If you’re lasted this long then you’re in for a bit of a treat. Here is a profile on Seth Jarvis. If you do not get to see him play very regularly, here are some of the aspects which made him have such a standout month offensively.
Seth Jarvis – 5’10, 172lbs – F – Portland Winterhawks
He was a first round draft pick by Portland in the 2017 WHL draft and as I type, he currently sits in fourth place in WHL scoring with 67 points in 47 games.
One thing you’ll find with Seth Jarvis that he is constant in motion, especially if he wants to gain speed entering the offensive zone. Whether the puck is on his stick or not, his ability to read the play effectively means he is at high speed when others are standing still. Here he is on a zone entry, showing his patience on the pass, and ability to change speeds to open up lanes.